The Athletics are planning to start rookie left-hander Jared Koenig on Wednesday against the Braves, Oakland manager Mark Kotsay told reporters (including The San Francisco Chronicle’s Matt Kawahara). Koenig will be making his MLB debut, and the A’s will need to make at least one roster move before the game in order to add Koenig to the 40-man roster.
A start against the World Series champions is quite the culmination of a long journey for Koenig, who hadn’t even played affiliated baseball until 2021. A 35th-round pick for the White Sox in the 2014 draft, Koenig opted for college ball but then went undrafted after two years of NCAA action. From there, Koenig spent the 2017-19 seasons pitching in the indy leagues and in the Australian Baseball League before catching on with the Athletics on a minor league deal.
After pitching well in Double-A in 2021, Koenig has done even better at the Triple-A level in 2022. The southpaw has a 2.21 ERA, 29.5% strikeout rate, and 7.2% walk rate over 53 innings (starting eight of nine games) for Triple-A Las Vegas. With a 3.43 FIP and 4.20 xFIP, Koenig is perhaps a little fortunate to have such a low ERA, though his numbers certainly stand out in the hitter-friendly Vegas environment.
Koenig will become the ninth different pitcher to make a start for Oakland this season, as the Athletics are still looking for consistency in the rotation in the wake of trading Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea during the offseason. Zach Logue was optioned back to Triple-A last week, opening the door for Koenig to get a shot at age 28. With the A’s in the midst of a rebuild, an opportunity exists for Koenig to grab a rotation spot if he proves he can handle MLB batters.